The Slaving History of the British Empire Pt 2: The Forgotten White Slave Children of Australia – By NwaAmadi Omeife Jideofo

The Forgotten White Slaves of Australia

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued a historic apology (November 2009) to thousands of impoverished British children shipped to Australia and exploited as slaves, serfs, or unpaid labourers. Many of them were kidnapped or were moved from various prisons and workhouses of Britain. Despite the huge number of white children born out of wedlock, there were no orphanages in Britain so to speak until well into the middle of the 20th century. The government however ruled out paying compensation for the exploitation, abuse and neglect that many suffered.

In Britain (until the 1950s), the orphaned, “illegitimate” or rejected children of the poor would end up in “work-houses”. These were centres where human cattle were barned together to be taken out each morning to be worked and exploited to the last drop of their sweat before being sent back once again into the hell hole of neglect and curelty. The ruling class considered them excess, irrelevant and disposable commodity hence the origin of the word “white trash”. Given these types of attitudes poor white children of Britain were prey to all manners of inhumane use.

The word “kidnap” arose from this notorious tendency of British overlords to commisson the nabbing and selling of the children of the working poor, or serfs or slaves of Britain. As such the words “kid” (for young child or goat) and “nab” were contracted together to yeild “Kidnab” later changed to “kidnap”. Often the Irish and the High-Land Scottish were primary targets of such activities.

Poor white christian children had been routinely shipped out of Britain as enslaved child-labour since 1618. The motives changed over the centuries but the crass exploitation and abuse inherent in such a system did not vary in any appreciable detail throughout the period. Between 1618 and 1818, the children were used primarily as labour. In the 19th century, the motive became more to increase the percentage of white settlement in over-sea territories as well as riding Britain of undesriable and unwanted characters. The program persisted between Britain and Australia until the early 1970s.

The slave white christian children were sent oversea by chartered crown companies and sold like herds of cattle as indentured servants, some as outright slaves, to mines, plantations. After 1920, most of the children went to Australia through programs run by the government, religious groups and children’s charities ostensibly to increase the “white working stock” of Australia.

The program finally ended in the early 1970s. In its last three decades it was supposedly intended to provide the children with “a new start” – and the Empire “with a supply of sturdy white workers”. But many children ended up in institutions where they were physically and sexually abused, or were sent to work as unpaid farm laborers living in slavish exploition.

The British government estimated 150,000 British children could have been shipped to Australia between 1618 and 1967. This number appears grossly under-estimated and the figure appears to be more in the range of 1.5 to 2 million lost children. It was a lucrative trade, that served a political and social purpose for the ruling class, hence there was every reason to increase on the numbers shipped out.

TThe British government has indicated that it would apologize for “child migrant” (“white-child slave trade”) programs that sent children as young as 3 to Australia, Canada and other former colonies over three and a half centuries. The first group was sent to the Virginia Colony in 1618.

November 21, 2009

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